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Group eyes 14th Ave. renovation

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The Whitestone Business Association hopes to beautify the area of 14th Avenue in Whitestone with benches and old-fashioned street lights by the end of 2003, one of the directors said.

According to Vinnie Papa, who sits on the board of directors of the Whitestone Business Association, the group will approach Community Board 7 with a proposal for changes to Whitestone’s main business district around 14th Avenue in about a month’s time.

The plans include the installation of old-fashioned street lights, brick sidewalks, and benches from 149th Street to Clintonville Street and from 12th Road to the Cross Island Parkway.

“We’re trying to retain the feeling of a small village,” said Papa.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) originally appropriated $680,000 for the Whitestone Business Association for the construction of a parking lot on 14th Avenue between 150th and Clintonville Street.

However, the Whitestone Business Association had trouble acquiring the desired property and switched to the idea of improving the look of the area, said Papa.

Padavan compared the Whitestone project to a grant he appropriated to beautify Bell Boulevard in Bayside.

“It’s very similar to what they are doing on Bell Boulevard, improving the experience that shoppers would have,” he said.

The Bayside proposal is known as the Bell Boulevard Streetscape. The Bayside Business Association’s plan calls for brick sidewalks, old-fashioned street lights, benches and angled parking on Bell Boulevard from 35th Avenue to Northern Boulevard.

While construction is set to begin on the Bell Boulevard project in the spring, residents have complained about the lack of community input in the plan. In November, the East Bayside Homeowners Association voted against it.

The projects differ, however, in that Whitestone’s proposal covers a smaller area than the Bayside plan. Moreover, Padavan designated $500,000 for Bayside’s plan as opposed to the $680,000 allocated to Whitestone’s plan.

On the other hand, Bayside’s plan calls for the addition of about 85 parking spaces, while Whitestone’s plan creates no additional parking.

Since Community Board 11 approved the Bayside plan, Papa said he does not expect any problem getting Community Board 7’s approval.

Papa has not yet presented the plan to Community Board 7.

Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, said the idea of the project appealed to her, but she also expressed reservations, especially over the lack of additional parking.

“It would be lovely, but I think a parking lot is needed,” she said.

Bitterman said she liked the idea of new street lights but questioned the need for benches.

“Benches could create a problem,” she said. “For kids, it becomes a hanging out, congregating thing.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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